"The number one thing that makes businesses thrive is a strong peer community."
In Fort Wayne, there is an entire network of women entrepreneurs who are killin’ it in their field and making invaluable contributions to our community. Andie Hines is one of those people—she started Red Tree Pro in 2014 as a print brokerage, but soon realized that she had much more to offer her clients. Now, Red Tree Pro provides services in event planning, brand development, and marketing consulting. Her client list includes a wide range of organizations and businesses, including Tolon, University of Saint Francis, and Berne Apparel, to name a few. On top of this, Andie is the founder of Own Your Success, a non-profit dedicated to empowering and supporting female entrepreneurs in the area.
Recently, I had an opportunity to sit down with Andie to talk about her journey through entrepreneurship in Fort Wayne, and her contributions to the community through both her business and non-profit.
What were some of the first jobs you had that led you to start Red Tree?
I sold paper for the first 10 years of my career, very much like in "The Office." My job was to work with graphic designers in the community to help them find the best paper for their project, more of the fine art aspect of paper. That was a sales and marketing role—I did that for ten years and I loved it. Part of the sales aspect was that I would do ‘Paper’ lunches and invite graphic designers in the community to come learn about new products or new print techniques. That was really the launch into all of this. I was on the board for the Advertising Federation for around eight years and did programming most of that time. I planned the ADDY awards two years in a row and was president for two terms in a row.
So, I was really active in that and that was all sales, marketing, and events. I worked for a couple ad agencies, but in early 2014 I found out I had cervical cancer. That was a big wake-up call that I didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing. As soon as I was well I wanted to start my own company. When I started, I was just a print broker, but I quickly found that my clients wanted more from me and just continued to shift from that. Now, Red Tree is essentially a full-service marketing firm, plus events.
Tell me about your non-profit—how did it come to fruition?
About six months after I started Red Tree, I started Own Your Success. It started out as lunch with girlfriends who also owned their own businesses. I wanted to get them all together so they could meet and maybe do business together. I invited 16, and 30 women showed up. It was fun and everybody got to meet and network, and it was fabulous. So, a few weeks later I planned another one and 60 women showed up, and so, Own Your Success was born.
I never set out for it to be an entity with a name and a mission statement. Now, four years later, we’re at over 430 members. We have events and programming every month where we get together face to face and just learn from and support each other. We’re in the process of fundraising because we’re going to open an office space in downtown Fort Wayne that’s just for women entrepreneurs. It’s been amazing, the connections and support we’ve gotten.
You’re doing so much. How do you prioritize to prevent burnout?
Oh, I do burn out, let’s be honest. It takes work and intentionality to put yourself first and take downtime. I have some other health struggles so, for me, it’s just about listening to my body and taking the pace that I need to take. And, just giving yourself the grace and the permission to take care of yourself. As women, especially, we don’t do that. We guilt ourselves and we feel so obligated to our spouse and our kids and our job and our volunteer-work, and we come last. I’m just as guilty of all of that as anyone, but it is just about being intentional and letting yourself take that time.
So, what does Fort Wayne mean to you?
I’ve lived here most of my life, I moved here from Ohio when I was 13 and just stayed. I went to high school and college here and have lived here ever since. I love Fort Wayne, it has enough ‘bigger city’ things to do and job opportunities, but then you can go to a restaurant and see a guy that you worked with 18 years ago—I love that. I’m a very people-person, and I love that about Fort Wayne—that friendliness and warmth. To me, that’s one of the biggest draws of Fort Wayne, those personal relationships. I have that with my clients and my OYS members. I don’t think that aspect of my personality would translate in a bigger city.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood or area of Fort Wayne?
A little over a year ago I moved northeast, and I’d never lived on that side of town before, but I’m really loving it. The houses are nice and whatever shop or grocery you need is there, and it feels just out enough that it’s kind of peaceful.
Where do you take friends to get the Fort Wayne experience?
My brother and his girlfriend were in town for a few hours during a layover, so I picked them up and drove them all through downtown. I just gave them the high points, like the ball park and the Embassy. I did a little loop through downtown. We went into the skyline and I took them up to the top floor. We walked around and popped into the cathedral and Lincoln tower, then we had lunch at JK O’Donnell’s and got a coffee at Fortezza. Then I had to get them back to the airport, but they were like, “Oh, Fort Wayne is so cool.”
I think there's a lot more cool stuff coming with the GE campus and the landing. So, I would say that’s the most exciting, coolest thing to show people in Fort Wayne right now.
Do you have a favorite quote or motivational quote?
I went through a really difficult divorce last year, and it was very heartbreaking and overwhelming. I’m not very vocal about my faith, but I am Christian and the verse that became my mantra through that whole thing was, “Even the waves obey his voice”. My life felt like this churning ocean at that time and it just gave me so much comfort, because life is crazy. I mean, I’m running two companies and I’m a single mom. So, it’s really powerful.
Final note from writer - Cassey Suthers
Every now and then, I find myself in a conversation with someone who finds Fort Wayne as remarkable as I do. Talking with Andie reminded me why l love being a member of this community. Fort Wayne has a uniqueness about it that encapsulates that little spark of passion in all of us.